2016 Photo Contest, Long-Term Projects, Stories, 1st prize

Sexual Assault in America's Military

Photographer

Mary F. Calvert

20 July, 2015

Paula Anderson, wrapped in plastic trash bags to keep dry, leaves an event held for homeless veterans. When Paula told her army commander that she had been drugged and raped by a fellow soldier, she was shipped off to Korea. Her army career lasted six years, but her MST has followed her for 20 years. She became homeless in February 2015, after her release following 17 months in jail.

The incidence of sexual assault on women by their colleagues in the US Armed Forces is high. Many women see reporting attacks to their commands as difficult or futile. Very few sexual assaults are reported and only a fraction of those get to court. The trauma of a sexual assault, and the ensuing emotional distress, may lead to long-term personal issues. The effects of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) include drug and alcohol dependence, homelessness, and an increased risk of suicide. Challenges for women veterans are not always met by existing vet programs. Women veterans form the fastest growing segment of the homeless population of the US, and are four times more likely to be homeless as other women.

The photographer, who comes from a military family, made it her mission to document the lives of MST survivors, and to keep the issue talked about. She learned that they formed a network of support for each other, but that homeless survivors were a hidden population, who rarely spoke to others about their experiences.

About

Mary F. Calvert

Calvert believes that journalists have a duty to shine a light into the deepest recesses of the human experience and provide a mirror for society to examine itself. Mary has b...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
1/80
Focal length
24.0 mm
F-Stop
11.0
ISO
1000
Camera
Nikon D3S

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